Craig Fleming admitted his Saints side gave themselves too much to do in their FA Youth Cup tie with Birmingham City, as their brave second-half fightback fell just short.
The Southampton youngsters fell behind 3-0 in the opening 21 minutes of the game at St Mary’s, but rallied after the break with goals through Olufela Olomola and Thomas O’Connor, as they lost 3-2.
Fleming was pleased with the display after half-time, but felt his side had dug themselves too much of a hole in the early stages of the third-round encounter.
"At 3-0 down it's too much to do, so as good as we were in the second half – and I thought they had a real go – you just don't come back from 3-0 down very often,” he told youtube.com/southamptonfc.
"We had a gameplan. We were going to get the ball out wide and play with width, switch play and we just didn't do it, we just kept trying to play central and trying to go through the middle where they had numbers and they just picked us off. It's a running theme. Our defending at the moment is not good enough.”
Fleming felt the occasion and playing at St Mary’s may have affected some of his players, but he reserved praise for 15-year-old left-back Jake Vokins, who was making his debut at under-18 level.
"I think a couple of them were just unrecognisable from what they are normally, but, having said that, the youngest player, who made his debut for us, Jake Vokins, I thought he was tremendous,” said Fleming. “I thought he was one of the best players on the pitch.
"I think the biggest plus point from our point of view is the name I just mentioned. We've had a little bit of an injury crisis, we've been short of left-backs, he came in and I thought he was tremendous, I really did.
“He looked positive, he looked sharp, and if you talk about positives he is the main one and then obviously as a group it is getting used to this experience and getting used to these surroundings.”